July 19, 2007

Rural Students to Benefit from Improved Distance Learning Opportunities

An investment of $1.5 million over three years will provide an increase in the number of courses available through distance education offered by Memorial University for students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, announced today that three complete programs will be developed, including a Master in Physical Education, the first online program in this field of study in Canada.

"Education is the cornerstone for personal and economic growth, but not all students can make the move to one of the university�s campuses," said Minister Burke. "We need to take courses to the students in these cases. Increasing accessibility through distance learning means students can advance their education, regardless of their physical location."

The White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education noted the importance of post-secondary education to the province�s sustained economic growth and social vitality. The report also highlighted the need for greater access to post-secondary education and improved responsiveness of the system to the changing needs of students.

Over the next three years, new on-line courses will be developed for the following programs of study: Bachelor of Post-Secondary Education, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Engineering Management, and Master of Physical Education. As well, development of graduate programs in arts and business is being explored.

"Memorial University is proud of its history as a leader in distance education," said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial University. "Distance registrations currently account for approximately 10 per cent of Memorial's overall enrollments. The Internet and other multimedia technologies allow us to open up new opportunities for rural and mature students that are relevant to their needs and to the needs of the province. In addition, this mode of learning is convenient for older learners who are in the workforce and over 60 per cent of our distance students are 25 years of age or older."

Minister Burke noted that increasing enrolment in distance education is an on-going trend, one that is being fully embraced by the department with such initiatives as the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI). The centre is engaging students through distance education at the secondary level, thus introducing them to a mode of education delivery that services rural, remote and isolated regions of the province.

"Advancing technology, especially to benefit rural areas of the province, is a goal of the Williams Government. The Internet and World Wide Web open up a whole new learning dynamic as individuals can study anywhere on the planet. Distance education courses allow flexibility for the learner, a key requirement for professionals and students wanting to further their education. With these new courses in place, professional growth and development in key educational programs are just a click away," said Minister Burke.


Media contact:
Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624

2007 07 19                                                   9:30 a.m.


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